OCTOBER, 2008       

VOL. 22, NO. 10                                                                             

 

IN THIS ISSUE:

FLORIDA CITRUS ACREAGE
TEXAS CITRUS ACREAGE
TEXAS PRODUCE CONVENTION
WEATHER
NOTABLE PASSINGS
PSYLLIDS AND GREENING
THE NEW SEASON

Florida Citrus Acreage—

In a preliminary report recently posted by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (http://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Florida/Publications/Citrus/CitAA08.pdf), the Florida citrus industry has continued to lose more acres than it is replacing.  Since the last survey, nearly 67,000 acres were lost with only about 22,000 replanted for a net loss of nearly 45,000 acres.  And that’s not the whole story—another nearly 130,000 acres have been classified as abandoned, meaning no care is being given. 

Currently, the report indicates a total of 496,518 acres of oranges, 56,881 acres of grapefruit and 23,178 acres of specialty citrus, bringing the total to 576,577 acres.  Of oranges, the acreage is 56 percent Valencias and 44 percent early and mids.  Grapefruit has declined by about half since Y2K, leaving 38,125 acres of colored, 17,711 acres of whites and 670 acres of seedy grapefruit.

Texas Citrus Acreage—


In a report prepared by USDA-APHIS-PPQ regarding citrus acreage in the Valley, Texas grapefruit acreage currently stands at 17,639 acres, with another 8,884 acres of oranges, for a total of 26,523 acres.  That figure has been pretty much stable for the last several years, as a similar report in 2004 showed 26,835 total acres.  Essentially, since 2004, grapefruit acreage has declined by about 800, while orange acreage has increased by about 500.

Used to be that the Valley’s total citrus acreage ranked 11th among Florida counties, but it looks like we might have moved up to the number 10 spot.  In other words, there are nine Florida counties that each have more acres of citrus than we do in the Valley.

Texas Produce Convention—


This event, which had to be rescheduled from the Island on account of Hurricane Dolly, came to pass two weeks ago at the new McAllen Convention Center off Ware Road in McAllen.  The facility is absolutely a gorgeous one, if you haven’t been there. 

The meeting itself had some really interesting speakers, the food was good, and Casino Night was well-attended.  The number of exhibitors was down substantially, as one might expect because of the rescheduling.  Sadly, there were a lot of missing faces from the local produce industry. 

If you have ever used the archival copies of the various county soil survey books published by the old Soil Conservation Service of the USDA, you might be interested in a gem I picked up at the Produce Convention.  The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) of the USDA has gone online with its soil survey data and I’m told that there is actually more information than in the books. 

The address is http://websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov.  I tried it earlier this week and it is simply an awesome tool.  The only problem is that it does not load extremely fast, so if you aren’t on a highspeed connection, you could be there a long time trying to load the location of a single grove.

Weather—


Just when it was beginning to look like a change from the rains, a cold front slid down the west side of Hurricane Ike and brought more rain.  The next several days were simply gorgeous (for the Produce Convention), but the rains returned a week later.  Currently, it has been sunny skies looking for the last week of September and is looking similar into October.  Groves and fields to the east are still too wet for vehicular traffic, so a drying period is desperately needed.

Meanwhile, up the river, the Luis Leon Reservoir on the Rio Concho in northern Chihuahua has been overflowing big time, resulting in a lot of water entering the Rio Grande in the Big Bend.  The inflows were such that parts of Presidio had to be evacuated in expectations that the levee would be breached—which did happen.

Aside from that tragedy, a plane carrying Carlos Marin, Commissioner, U.S. Section International Water and Boundary Commission, Arturo Herrera, Commissioner, Mexico Section of the International Water and Boundary Commission, and Jake Brisbin, Jr., Executive Director of the Rio Grande Council of Governments disappeared September 15 while enroute from El Paso to Presidio via the Luis Leon Reservoir.  The flight was to survey the extent of flooding in the Luis Leon Reservoir and in the Presidio-Ojinaga area, and to coordinate efforts related to the flooding.

The wreckage of their plane was discovered two days later in the rugged mountains some 23 miles northwest of Presidio,13 miles into Mexico; all three men and the pilot, Matthew Peter Juneau, were casualties.

Notable Passings—


Personnel at the TAMU Centers here in Weslaco were doubly saddened last week by the deaths of two of our retirees and members of the “Greatest Generation” of Americans.  

Herb Dean, Citrus Entomologist who retired in 1981, passed away on September 21 in Bryan, TX, at the age of 90.  While Herb could be cited for numerous achievements, he will be remembered for his work on Rhodes grass scale and for pioneering research in the integrated management of citrus pests.  Herb’s military service was in the Pacific theater during WWII with the U.S. Navy.

Paul Leeper, Horticulturist who retired in 1987, passed away at his home in Weslaco on September 24 at the age of 83.  Paul worked in vegetable variety improvement (breeding) and was responsible for the production of a number of tomato and onion varieties during his career, including the noted 1015 onion.  Paul was wounded while serving with the 82nd Airborne Division at Bastogne during WWII.  

Psyllids and Greening—


A couple of more counties with citrus have been added to the map that I published here a couple of months ago, including an additional nine counties in which psyllid has been identified.  The August edition of this newsletter reported 33 counties with psyllids and another 52 counties with citrus but no psyllid.  Currently, there are 42 counties with psyllids and another 56 counties with citrus but no psyllid.

In California, psyllid numbers in lower San Diego County have gone up significantly.  Officials have imposed a quarantine on that portion of the county around where the psyllid was detected, in hopes of eliminating it before it moves into commercial groves in the north end of the county. 

In Louisiana, two additional trees have been confirmed to have greening—this time up in the toe of the boot in Washington Parish, in the city of Bogalusa.  This is an area that I used to know quite well, as I grew up in Washington Parish and still have a few relatives there. 

The New Season—


This time last year, shipments of fresh citrus from the Valley had already begun.  Not so this season, although both navels and Marrs oranges have been passing maturity standards for the last couple of weeks, and grapefruit is close.  Still, packers need drying weather so harvest crews can get into groves.



JULIAN W. SAULS, Ph.D.

Professor & Extension Horticulturist
2401 East Highway 83
Weslaco TX 78596


THE INFORMATION GIVEN HEREIN IS FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. REFERENCE TO COMMERCIAL PRODUCTS OR TRADE NAMES IS MADE WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT NO DISCRIMINATION IS INTENDED AND NO ENDORSEMENT BY THE COOPERATIVE EXTENSION SERVICE IS IMPLIED.


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